I turned 17 October 15, 2008. I was a senior in high school, just landed an internship with a local newspaper, but I could not celebrate. My mother who had been diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005 had lost her battle the day before. Here I was 17 years old, getting ready to fill out college applications, and my life flashed before my eyes.
When my mother was initially diagnosed it was a shock to my family, because she was never a smoker. The largest misconception of lung cancer is that those who have it were smokers. With my mothers diagnosis I tried to act as if everything was ok, but in reality I was just masking the pain.
The summer before my senior year my mother’s health took a turn for the worse and it came to a point where the hospitals could do nothing more for her. She was slowly slipping away, and that is when reality was starting to sink in.
The day she passed everything moved in slow motion for me. I did not know what my next step was. I knew that I had to finish high school, but college was the furthest thing from my mind. I tried to hide it from my school, but my grandmother told them anyway.
College applications were beginning to pile up, and I had no idea how to fill them out. At that time I did not want to be bothered with any guidance counselors, so I researched and filled them out myself. My dad and grandmother were coping with the loss, so they weren’t much help. In that momement I took initiative. I realized I had to grow up fast and get my mind back on track. It was time to rely on myself.
I was accepted to a few schools, but I knew I could not afford going out of state so I stayed local. Best part? I got a car. I headed off to school about 30 minutes away from home and studied Broadcast Journalism. I was so engrossed in radio and TV production that I could not get enough.
I was in therapy throughout my freshman year to help with the transition of high school to college and balance my emotions of my losing my mother. It was still a fresh memory that took a while to overcome. My therapist was very helpful and gave me a lot of literature, and I bought a journal to write down all my feelings in.
I have been writing in my journal every day since college started, whether it was short or long, and the notebook is almost full. Being able to write down my thoughts helped me to keep everything from being bottled up. It helped me stay focused. It helped me rant and lash out about not doing great on a test, people I met, internships I had, my social life, and my relationships.
As I get ready to graduate on May 23rd, I know my mom could not be more proud. Just to think four years ago I was ready to give up, but I stuck to it and will be graduating with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. I live by the motto that through tragedy comes success. If you have faith and believe that you can get past roadblocks, then anything is possible. It’s all about believing in yourself regardless if others do.